Californians for Equal Rights Foundation represents concerned stakeholders in Poway Unified School District, in firm opposition to the infusion of critical race theory in district curricula and practices
Critical race theory (CRT) is being propagated in Poway Unified School District (PUSD), from its elective high school courses (Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Literature) to its “Racial Equity and Inclusion” plan. In spite of overwhelming evidence and proactive stakeholder engagement, PUSD Board of Education has continued to deny its promotion of CRT and refused to modify its problematic curricular and policies.
PUSD’s “Racial equity & Inclusion” plan refers to controversial critical race theorists including Ibram X Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, pushing a hypothesis that systemic racism permeates US society and PUSD advocates student activism, instead of knowledge, as central to its curricula. Rather than teaching students “to be global citizens with an appreciation for the contributions of multiple cultures”, as mandated by California law (AB-2016), PUSD’s new Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Studies courses champion the same disputed race-based tropes obsessed with skin color and race. CRT concepts such as “power and oppression,” “intersectionality,” and “white privilege” are seamlessly woven into course contents. Last but not least, PUSD’s newly appointed Director of Equity and Empowerment is a self-proclaimed social justice activist dedicated to “the work of liberation” rather than to the work of an educator.
More importantly, these district-level developments respond to and must be situated in a national trend of promoting and propagating CRT. Just to name a few, the U.S. Department of Education recently proposed two funding priorities for the American History and Civics Education programs, citing Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times’ 1619 Project. America’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), has urged its members to teach CRT in classrooms and committed significant funding to identifying opponents to CRT.
Since PUSD’s unveiling of its CRT-infused programs, a broad-based coalition of community members, parents and students have organized peaceful demonstrations, public comments and formal meetings with PUSD officials to voice their genuine concerns regarding CRT’s divisive, discriminatory and non-educational nature. Their well-reasoned advice has fallen on deaf ears.
CFER calls upon all PUSD stakeholders to act now and request that PUSD:
1. Rescind its current Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Literature curricular and engage stakeholder groups including CFER in free and prior consultation before deciding on new materials that will use a holistic, constructive framework that promotes mutual respect, harmony and true cross-cultural understanding;
2. Revise its “Racial Equity & Inclusion” plan, resources, and programs to root out CRT-related references;
3. Conduct a thorough audit of all existing District practices and programs to ensure its focus on educational excellence and elimination of ideological indoctrination: refrain from spending taxpayer funds on staff positions that promote CRT in the District’s decisions, processes and systems;
4. Make a pledge to all its stakeholders that CRT will not be taught in PUSD in areas including but not limited to: high school ethnic studies/literature, middle school history and social studies, and elementary school history and social studies.
5. Ensure all hiring and promotion of District personnel are implemented without preferential treatment or discrimination based on “race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin,” in strict observation of the California State Constitution (Article I, Section 31 (a)), the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and all other state and federal non-discrimination laws.